‘Look and Feel’ B2B vs. B2C
In the past, companies sent mail order catalogs to consumer to update them of their products and eventually make them buy their goods. Instead of going to brick and mortar shops, consumers skim through the catalogs, find out items they like, fill out an order form or order through the telephone. Goods are usually delivered to the address supplied by the customer or are pick from the nearest store location. But with the advent of the Internet, companies, whether SMEs (small and medium enterprises) or Forbes 500 member, have put websites. These days, setting up a website is easy and companies know they can maximize their websites’ potential to gain new customers and retain existing ones. Moreover, deploying an easy-to-navigate website facilitates for a faster, smooth-sailing e-commerce transaction, both for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) sites. Setting up a website is cheap- no more printing and mailing costs, low manpower cost, thus cutting overhead expenditure, no permits needed, wider reach of prospective customers, updated catalog that is open 24 hours a day (How to start an e-business, 2008).
This paper will address the differences between B2B and B2C sites in terms of its “look and feel”, navigation and usability.
In order to see the differences between the two, it is important to first understand the marketing goals of B2B and B2C websites. This is so one can have a fair assessment on why such sites are created. As stated earlier, websites can help a company not just improve customer relations but bring in sales, too. As the name implies, B2B websites are those provides goods or services to other companies. Examples are Microsoft.com and Dell.com. Furthermore, B2B marketing focuses on building and maintaining personal relationship, has a longer sale cycle, creates brand awareness and education, buying decision is based on business value, and deals with a smaller yet targeted market (Murphy, 2008). On the other hand, B2C websites are basically those that aim to sell, market, promote goods or services. They serve as virtual stores. Examples are Amazon.com and Borders.com. Borders.com, in particular, is interesting for there are Borders stores in the US and around the world. Borders.com serves as Borders’ virtual store. Additionally, B2C marketing concentrates on selling the products, has a shorter sales cycle, creates brand awareness through images and repetition and whose buying decisions are based on the price, status, and desire (2008).
To analyze the “look and feel” of a B2B site, let us take into consideration the speed, navigation, product selection, price, shipping and time frame details, customer interaction features such as feedback, mailing list, images, and security features.
A B2B site is easy to upload, unless there is a flash presentation. Most B2B sites present flash presentation to demonstrate their product/service. This is done to elucidate the product they are offering. Since B2B sites cater to another business, it is highly probable that the sites’ visitors are also into business, and may have broadband connection. If this is the case, then visiting a B2B site with flash presentation will be a breeze. Music will also factor in for a faster uploading. If the site has music to accompany the site, it will somehow slow down the speed. B2B sites offer business solutions to other companies; thus, the overall look of the site is more professional, clean, and detailed. There are categories that will make it easier for the visitor to navigate his way around the site. A “search” function is also important in a B2B site, or any site that matters. It makes for an easier tracking. Some B2B sites also offer international sites, meaning once the website is open, there is a section in the site, usually in the upper part, asking the viewer to click on his location. By doing so, he will be transferred to the regional site, which comes in the country’s native language. This is a useful strategy for it allows businesses to easily transact with the regional site instead of doing business with the home base location of the company. Prices and shipping details maybe listed or one may opt to leave a message or simply call the hotline to talk to a customer service representative. Some also may simply ask for a quote, especially since companies usually bulk in bulk. B2B sites do this to foster personal relationships with their clients. As explained earlier, B2B sites are in for a long haul. Mail listing is likewise provided to encourage customer interaction. B2B companies use this to keep their customers updated on their products, provide discounts, etc. Some B2B sites, like Dell.com for example, have forums and blogs where business owners and customers may share their thoughts. Dell.com even has podcast and video sharing where tips and solutions for tech problems can be found. B2B sites usually do not feature advertisement. Finally, security is vital in the success of any B2B site. B2B sites ensure that their sites are hacker-safe.
On the other hand, B2C sites are more dazzling in appearance. B2C sites are after sales so they flood the site with images to egg on the visitor to purchase. They also use more colors to entice visitors. Flash presentations are also present in B2C sites. Pictures accompany the products. Often, products are categorized for a cleaner presentation. In Amazon.com for instance, there are categories such as books, electronics, health and beauty and so on. This facilitates an easier navigation. Like B2B sites, prices and shipping details are listed so customers can easily check how much they will be spending for a certain product. Some B2C sites have international sites but are more limited than B2B sites, which may have more regional offices around the world. Search function is also present in B2C sites, again to help the visitor find what he is looking for in a less period of time. B2C sites also offer mailing list. It is an easier way to market their product just by sending email blast. Blogs and forums are new features for most B2C sites. They use this to solicit customer feedback. Some B2C sites have advertisements posted. Such advertisements generate more income for the sites. As with B2B sites, a hacker-free certificate is important for B2C sites.
B2B and B2C sites may have differences in terms of “look and feel”, in navigation, speed and other specifics but their goal is the same-to market their products, whether services or actual goods. Whatever overall presentation and strategy B2B and B2C sites, what is important are to keep them competitive, factual, and interesting to keep customers buying from them.
Murphy, D. (2008). Marketing for B2B vs. B2C- Similar but Different.
Retrieved June 4, 2008, from http:www.vista-consulting.com
How to start an e-business (2008). Entrepreneur. Retrieved June 4, 2008, from